(Photo Credit: Photo By Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald)
By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty
Home: Boston Bruins
Away: Buffalo Sabres
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
DeBrusk – Krejci – Coyle
Bjork – Lindholm – Heinen
Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner
Chara – McAvoy
Grzelcyk – Carlo
Vaakanainen – Clifton
Vesey – Eichel – Reinhart
Skinner – Rodrigues – Sheary
Girgensons – Larsson – Lazar
Mittelstadt – Asplund – Olofsson
McCabe – Ristolainen
Dahlin – Montour
Scandella – Jokiharju
After a solid 5-1 win over New Jersey on Tuesday, it was back to TD Garden for the Bruins for this Atlantic division tilt with the Buffalo Sabres. This game served as an opportunity to continue to get back to their winning ways against the struggling Sabres.
Having Patrice Bergeron back in the lineup after missing the last two served as a boost, while at the same time, Brett Ritchie sat out as an old infection flared up again. The baby steps towards a healthier Bruins team continued.
A huge congratulations to Bruins trainer, Don DelNegro on his 2000th game. What a tremendous accomplishment. Not only was it game number 2000 for DelNegro, but it was also game number 2000 for Sabres Assistant Equipment Manager, George Babcock. Congratulations to him as well.
Things got off to a rough start when Pat Lindholm went down awkwardly in the corner in a collision with Rasmus Asplund. He proceeded to go down the tunnel to get things checked out. Sean Kuraly then went off for tripping and Rasmus Ristolainen made him pay by burying a rebound to put the Sabres ahead by one just 5:25 into the game.
Through 11:31, the Sabres outshot the Bruins 13-0. I can’t imagine that was in the plans for either team. The first shot on net didn’t come until 40 seconds later. But, if you can be one thing, you should be efficient. That is when it comes to making your shots count, in this case. Brad Marchand clearly knows that, as made good on the team’s second shot of the game, deflecting it past Linus Ullmark for his 14th goal of the season. Zdeno Chara (5) and David Pastrnak (16) had the helpers. Tie game.
A scrum then broke out shortly after and Chris Wagner and Curtis Lazar chucked some knucks, amongst other scrums in front of Tuukka Rask. Good veteran move from Wagner to stick up for Urho Vaakanainen.
The Bruins were awfully fortunate to get out of the first period tied at one, because the Sabres outplayed them big time. Shots in the period were 17-4 in favor of the Sabres. Luckily for the Bruins, they came to life a bit in the second half of the period. A whole lot needed to be better going into the second period though.
Rask made some noise early with a nice standup save just 26 seconds in on Jack Eichel. Good news came in the form of Lindholm returning to the Bruins bench. Bad news came in the form of a hooking penalty on Matt Grzelcyk in an attempt to backcheck – giving the Sabres their second power play opportunity of the game just 4:44 into the period. Trouble was averted as the Sabres failed to convert on the man advantage.
The Bruins saw a power play of their own as Asplund went off for holding with 6:45 to go in the period. Just 30 seconds after an ugly first minute of the power play, Brad Marchand gave the Bruins the lead. His second of the game and 15th of the season was assisted by Matt Grzelcyk (5) and Danton Heinen (6).
Charlie Coyle went off for hooking 31 seconds after the goal. Rask made an excellent sliding save on Conor Sheary and the Bruins eventually killed the penalty. Jake DeBrusk found himself with space and a great chance to score in the final 30 seconds, but was stopped by Ullmark. Unfortunately in DeBrusk’s case, he went down the tunnel after crashing into the boards hard after his late scoring chance.
Jeff Skinner then had a chance of his own that was saved by the post. Nothing like a good scare in the dying seconds to get the blood flowing. The shots in the second frame were 14-7 Bruins to bring the total to 24-18 Sabres. It was a good step in the right direction – and a needed one at that.
Score: 2-1 Boston
Jake McCabe went off for holding 32 seconds in. David Pastrnak made it hurt. In doing so he became the first player in the NHL to reach the 20-goal mark this season. The goal was assisted Heinen (7) and Bergeron (12).
Joakim Nordstrom went to the box for tripping not too long after the goal with 16:27 to go. Rask made an acrobatic, sprawling save across the crease on Evan Rodriques to preserve the two-goal lead. The Bruins then went on to kill the penalty in large part due to Rask.
Brandon Montour made things interesting on a one-timer on his off-side that beat Rask on the glove side, making it a 3-2 game with 7:02 remaining. A tense final seven minutes followed, but the Bruins came out with the win. Shots in the third period were 14-9 Sabres, and 38-27 overall. Tuukka Rask made 36 saves in the win. Next up are the Minnesota Wild on Saturday at TD Garden at 7:00 PM ET. The Bruins are 14-3-5.